USCIS Processing Update: H-4 / H-4 EAD

Update July 26, 2023

We are glad to share some new insights into the current processing timelines for stand-alone I-539 and H-4 extensions. As of our recent observation, a stand-alone I-539 (H-4 extension) application took roughly four months for processing.

However, it’s important to note that when H-4 and H-4 EAD applications are filed concurrently with a premium processed H-1B application, they are likely to be adjudicated simultaneously or shortly after the approval of the H-1B application.

When submitted along with an H-1B visa via regular premium processing, the H-1B processing time tends to dictate the timeline, typically resulting in all three applications being approved concurrently.

Update March 31, 2023

Stand-alone times for H-4 and H-4 EAD remain the same. Most are being processed faster than posted. Here’s one that took just 1 month.

Here’s a sample that took 3 to 4 months. Both H-4 and H-4 EAD were filed at the same time.

Update January 6, 2023

We are now seeing H-4s being approved at the same time as premium-processed H-1Bs. Previously, there was a delay of about 2 to 3 months. Adjudicating H-4s, H-4 EADs, and a premium-processed H-1B at the same time was the standard protocol before 2019. In March 2019, USCIS began requiring H-4 applicants to attend ACS appointments and deposit their biometrics which led to delays in approving H-4s. The entire biometrics process may take months to complete.

When USCIS suspended the biometrics requirement for H-4 applicants on May 17, 2021, we continued to see a gap between the approval of a premium-processed H-1B and the dependents’ H-4 and H-4 EAD when they are filed together. The delay was about 2 to 3 months, still much faster than filing a stand-alone H-4 or H-4 EAD.

Now, it seems the gap has been eliminated. If this trend continues, filing H-4 and H-4 EADs with a premium-processed H-1B will be the fastest way to obtain approvals. Note that the earliest an H-1B extension may be submitted is 6 months prior to the current H-1B expiration. There is no such restrictions for H-1B transfers or amendments.

Update November 15, 2022

Kudos to USCIS for improving the processing speed of both H-4s and H-4 EADs. Below is a sample stand-alone H-4 and H-4 EAD filed on August 11, 2022. Both were approved at the same time on November 4, 2022.

Update March 8, 2022

Sample H-4 approval which was filed on August 12, 2021. This is a stand-alone filing without H-4 EAD. about 6 months wait.

Update February 11, 2022

Received an H-4 approval which was filed on July 15, 2021. This is a stand-alone filing without H-4 EAD. 7 months wait.

Update November 10, 2021 – Breaking News

H-4 spouses may now benefit from automatic extension of their EADs. Once renewal EAD is timely filed, the expiring EAD will be extended up to 180 days. Work authorization is now incidental to L-2. Meaning that L-2 holders may work without having to apply for EAD.

Update October 27, 2021

This is a stand-alone H-4. Total processing time is less than 4 months. Compared to cases filed in 2020, USCIS has improved processing time in 2021.

With USCIS suspending the biometrics requirement for H-4 applications on May 17, 2021, we will note any further improvements in overall processing time.

Update October 26, 2021

H-4/H-4 EADs that were filed in 2021 are being processed faster than those filed in 2020. Here’s an example of an H-4/H-4 EAD filed in September 2020 which was recently approved. Total processing time is about 13 months.

Update October 5, 2021

Here are some more sample approvals showing the current processing timeline for H-4. The two H-4s and one corresponding H-4 EAD were filed in March and April of this year were approved in late September. Total processing time is about 6 to 7 months.

Update August 26, 2021

This is a standalone H-4 filed on September 15, 2020 and got approved after 11 months. We currently do not have any pending H-4s that were filed in 2020.

Update August 23, 2021

We received H-4 and H-4 EAD approvals which were filed on February 4, 2021. The applicant completed H-4 biometrics on May 14, 2021. Principal received H-1B approval on February 18, 2021.

Update June 23, 2021

We received an H-4 and an H-4 EAD approval which were filed on August 6, 2020. The applicant completed biometrics on March 12, 2021.

We also received an H-4 approval which was filed on May 13, 2020. The applicant completed biometrics on April 23, 2021.

Update June 14, 2021

We received an H-4 approval which was filed on July 31, 2020. The applicant completed biometrics on May 11, 2021.

Update May 27, 2021

We just received an H-4 EAD approval which was filed on August 31, 2020. Total processing time: 9 months. Hopefully, this will give some folks with similar receipt dates something positive to look forward to.

Update May 4, 2021

Recently, USCIS has taken drastic steps to eliminate the backlog. This explains why we received a bunch of biometrics notices last week including those for recently filed H-4s.

Currently, there are approximately 120 officers adjudicating Form I-539 for the H-4 and L-2 classifications with another 33 officers scheduled for training in May 2021. In the past 60 days, 25,000 applications related to H-4 and L-2 were adjudicated.

Original Post April 26, 2021

As of April 26, 2021, USCIS is making significant progress in terms of finally sending out the biometrics notices for pending H-4 applications. We notice in a period of one week, a surge in biometrics notices for H-4s filed in July and August of 2020. Amazingly, we are also receiving biometric notices for cases filed as recently as March and even April 2021.

Hopefully, this effort to catch up will continue with the production of the H-4 EAD cards as most are still anxiously waiting for them.

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